MotoGP Projected 2015 Final Standings

MotoGP for Dummies 12/1/2014, by Bruce Allen

It being December 1, MotoGP enters its self-imposed two month hiatus, the only real break in a season which has, as is true in most sports, expanded and filled the calendar.  A competition season schedules 18 races over 31 weeks and includes a few dead spots. Pre-season work (“spring practice”) begins in early January, the same way spring football practice does at The University of Alabama.  It ends, finally, for everyone, at the end of November.  Crewing, owning, managing, and riding are, for all practical purposes, year-round occupations.  Highly intense year-round occupations.

Before I forget, here are the final 2015 standings, in an effort to relieve you of the need to actually watch Marquez win.  The rest, obviously, is totally SWAG-ed.  Top to bottom, the grid appears tighter than in years past, more solid, with more solvent mid-range teams and fewer struggling lower-tier teams.

  1.  Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda2014 MotoGP World Champion
  2. Jorge Lorenzo, Movistar Yamaha
  3. Valentino Rossi, Movistar Yamaha
  4. Andrea Dovisioso, Factory Ducati
  5. Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda
  6. Andrea Iannone, Factory Ducati
  7. Pol Espargaro, Tech 3 Yamaha
  8. Scott Redding, Marc VDS
  9. Cal Crutchlow CWM LCR Honda
  10. Bradley Smith, Tech 3 Yamaha
  11. Stefan Bradl, NGM Forward Yamaha
  12. Aleix Espargaro, Factury Suzuki
  13. Nicky Hayden, Drive 7 Aspar Honda
  14. Danilo Petrucci, Pramac Ducati
  15. Jack Miller, CWM LCR Honda
  16. Maverick Vinales, Factory Suzuki
  17. Yonny Hernandez, Pramac Ducati
  18. Alvaro Bautista, Factory Aprilia Gresini
  19. Marco Melandri, Factory Aprilia Gresini
  20. Karel Abraham, Cardion AB Honda
  21. Hector Barbera, Avintia Ducati
  22. Mike di Meglio, Avintia Ducati
  23. Eugene Laverty, Drive 7 Aspar Honda
  24. Loris Baz, NGM Forward Yamaha
  25. Alex de Angelis, Octo Ioda Racing

The odds against this being the actual standings at the end of next year are incalculable.  However, if you, the nit-picking reader, would like, I would have much more confidence in the list if it were broken into tranches:

cropped-jorge-lorenzo-20131.jpgTranche 1:  Marquez↑, Lorenzo↑, Rossi↓, Pedrosa↓, Dovizioso↑

Tranche 2:  Iannone↑, The Espargaros↔, Redding↑, Crutchlow↑, Smith↔, Bradl↓Andrea Iannone

Tranche 3:  Hayden↑, Petrucci↑, Miller↔, Vinales↔, Hernandez↔, Bautista↓, Melandri↔

Tranche 4:  Abraham↓, Barbera↓, Di Meglio↔, Laverty↔, Baz↔ and De Angelis↓

In years past, when I’ve attempted to tranche the grid–it was a smaller grid back then–I would usually come up with five groups.  Next year it’s only four, suggesting, again, that the grid will be tighter, top to bottom, than in past years.  More financially stable, too.  Tighter competition, regardless of where it takes place during a race, is what gets the fans going. It needs a 25-bike grid that is generally well-financed and capable of generating, capturing, and using the data which seem to drive the sport–a sport that desperately needs a TV deal eliminating commercials during the 45 minutes it takes to run the race.

Anyway, on the day it becomes illegal to test machines, the best we can do is to speculate on next year’s prospects, at the top, middle and bottom of the food chain.  Even writing this, I sense that several of my picks are over- or under-rated, at least within their tranches.  Personally, I think it would be a blast to see either of the two young rookies, Vinales and Miller, do well, by which we mean performing at a high level before predictably crashing in four or five races.  Marquez surprised us in his rookie year by crashing out only once. Maybe one of these guys could do the same.  In his rookie year on the LCR Honda Casey Stoner finished eighth.Jack Miller

Nicky Hayden still has the ability to ride anything, and his Honda this year is going to be more competitive than last year’s model.  Still, he finds himself, turning 34, at the top of the third tranche, happy to be running for a Honda-supported team, prevailing most weeks against the two youngsters as well as a bunch of Ducatis and Aprilias.

Tranche Four has low expectations.  Or perhaps its just me, who has low expectations for them.  The fact is, Karel Abraham should lead this rather sorry group, but one or two of them may end up in tranche three. This is, career-wise, a downward socially mobile group, as their appearance in MotoGP, even at the back of the grid, will, for some, mark the high water mark of a career that will often end up in World Super Bikes or British Super Bikes.  Abraham, again, is the exception, as his dad owns much of the world they inhabit.  He can ride MotoGP until he decides to join the Czech bar and practice law.

So, perhaps the main surprise is my perception that the factory Ducati will improve, under the direction of GigiDall’Igna, to the point that Dovizioso will displace Pedrosa as The Fourth Alien. That Pedrosa may have, once and for all, lost a step, a step that left with his hope of winning a title in over the past four years.  My guess is that Pedrosa’s contract won’t be renewed after the 2016 season .  And that Alex Marquez will take the #2 seat on the Repsol Honda team beginning in 2017.

Talk about Tito Rabat.  Let’s assume Tito Rabat repeats as Moto2 champion in 2015, as expected, and decides that he wants to move up the following year.  It won’t be with the Repsol Honda team, who tried to field a three-bike team back in the day that didn’t work out. It could easily be as the second Marc VDS bike alongside Scott Redding, which might work out just fine, depending on the level of factory support MVDS is getting from Japan.

Rabat could negotiate a one year deal with MVDS, leaving him free to join Lorenzo on the factory Yamaha team if and when Rossi is not renewed after the 2016 season.  Of course, if the Repsol Honda team could figure out a way to have the three amigos–both Marquez brothers and Rabat–racing in the same colors it would be in complete cosmic alignment with the stars and spirits and incapable of defeat.  A karmic troika. Plenty of Spanish national anthems on podium celebrations.

(Don’t get me going on the Spanish national anthem.  My friend says it is an instrumental–people stand around humming–because the lyrics became illegal every few years as succeeding regimes demanded their own.)

So, is there anyone willing to argue that Marquez is not a lock in 2015?

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